tv Hatice Cengiz Testifies on Human Rights Journalism CSPAN May 17, 2019 4:36am-6:26am EDT
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the fiancee of the slain saudi journalist jamal khashoggi testified at a house hearing about journalism and human rights supporting. witnesses representing the committee to protect journalists and freedom house also testified. ittee to protect journalists and freedom house also testified. >> good afternoon, everyone. this hearing for the subcommittee on africa, global health, global human rights and international organizations will come to order. i note that the quorum is present. the subcommittee is waiting to hear testimony on the dangers of reporting on human rights. to do we are here to highlight. the atrocities against journalists, press freedom, and to consider the various ways we can work to protect journalists. the seriousness of the threat to press freedom writ large requires the united states to expand its alliances with fellow democracies and deepen its own
commitment to democratic shared values. the world democratic nations must show a united front and defend democracy as an international right in order to decrease the current authoritarian and anti-liberal trends across many places in the world. so without objection, all members will have five days to submit statements, questions, materials for the record subject to the length commit limitation and the rules. i would like to start by thanking our distinguished witnesses who are here with us today. i would also like to especially thank hatice cengiz and miss hoj who willa be speaking about their experiences. it is becoming harder for journalists to educate the public about event but affect their lives and enabling citizens to hold the government accountable. the press is constantly
threatened. judges will enforce harsh punishments, violent extremist groups, and that want to control the narrative, and online trolls who make threats via the internet. the committee to protect journalists notes that the number killed on the job as reprisal murders for their work nearly doubled in 2018 from just a year earlier. noted that the juvenile journalists also hit a high. the world press freedom index compiled by reporters without orders shows a number of countries regarded as safe, where journalists can work complete security continues to decline. amnesty international regularly highlight where journalists are harassed, detained, held without charge or given extreme sentences for reporting on human rights. human rights watch has highlighted uganda's attempt to gag the media come tunisian
bloggers held for presenting officials, journalists in myanmar who face charges, burundi's crackdown on press freedom. the digital security act passed in bangladesh, that strikes a blow to freedom of speech in that country, and many other instances of the increasing crackdown on journalists. the difficult situation in hungary, where the government now controls 90% of the media outlet in the country, according to the committee to protect on a journalists --ct according to the committee to protect journalists. general, nondemocratic governments are traditionally more likely to engage in censorship, legal restrictions, or other actions that restrict media freedom.
but there has been a shift across the world, challenges to journalism and press freedoms globalommitting to submission and declines in decade.y over the past whether it is an attack on the capital gazette newsroom in annapolis, maryland that killed five journalists, the rape and murder of a bulgarian journalist, or the human rights atrocity that happened to mr. khashoggi in turkey, journalists are being violently attacked for doing their job. the rise of digital authoritarianism is another way for governments o to control thr citizens and use the term fake news to suppress those who oppose them, helping to suppress the internet and other media platforms. here in the u.s., the administration continues to mock the press, often rejecting the news media's role, calling it fixed news, hoping to discredit our own press.
it is unacceptable of the leading global democracy and goes against the principles of press freedom and gives life to political leaders were lessons media as out of of their larger authoritarian agenda. my colleagues and i hear in congress believe in protecting journalists' ability to do their job without the fear of political violence or suppression. fortunately for the united states we have strong institutions including spatial guarantees of the freedom of the press and speech and systems that check executive power or, i should say, try to check executive power. but that is not the case around the world. the numerous attacks around the world are jarring, and it is clear that there is a profound crisis of press freedom. there also seems to be a lack of international leadership on a safety.sts'rights and i look forward to hearing what
you think we should do to ensure the continued strength of our press freedoms. i now recognize the ranking member for the purpose of making an opening statement. >> thank you very much, madam chair. it is a delight to welcome these unbelievably effective witnesses, those who have borne a terrible price, whether in the case of one individual, jamal khashoggi, a terrible, terrible murder by the saudi arabiams, as of course, others from radio free asia who is here to testify. i thank you for that hearing, it is part of an ongoing effort we're all making to say that a free, unfettered press is important. unfortunately, the media worldwide is under siege, particularly in authoritarian countries. human rights reporters are civil rights, the
right to a fair trial, the rights to assemble and practice religion, and the right to life. freedom of speech is implicated when journalists are targeted by a repressive government. not only are their voices silenced, but also the voices of the victims of civil rights abuses from journalists allowed to have their stories told, and resources as well, who are often abused.down and take the example of one of our hoja our, gulchehra work on reporting on the repression of the uighurs by the chinese government. as a direct result of her reporting, more than two dozen of her directives were placed in so-called reeducation camps, concentration camps.
in other words, she both reports the news and becomes the news in so far as his family has been victimized on account of her fulfilling her professional duty. when we put the face of a victim on an issue, and we hear what they have endured or their families, it becomes personalized and even more compelling an understandable to everyone, including members of congress, so thank you for sharing that story. i point out another person who , whofor review free europe i actually met with in baku several years ago, she's got seven and a half years by the government of azerbaijan for reporting on the kleptocracy of the president of that country. i convened a hearing, we heard from a number of important people in the journalist world including radio free europe's
leader, had director, and made an appeal to the president to let her go. she reported on corruption, she had every right to do so, yet she was serving is seven and a half year, and she was working as a stringer for us, the united states government. introduced a bill, and act, and really began saying, the president needs to release all the political prisoners, including members of the press. he released them, he released her, but the message had been sent and received. a chilling message is that if you crossed swords with the dictator, you will pay a severe price. self-censorship becomes a very real issue as well, as i am sure our distinguished witnesses can speak to that. , thank you for the time
we spend together yesterday. both my staff and i were greatly moved by your love for your , and the lack of accountability on the part of those people who murdered him. it seems to me that coming out then in washington should keep that issue not just a live in terms of the accountability, but there are people in the saudi arabian government who ought to be held to account. i believe the magnitsky shanks than need to be meted out about those in less against those individuals -- the magnitsky shanks than need to be meted out against those individuals for their role in this terrible atrocity. the horrific murder or in consolation -- incarceration of journalists, two things that are ridiculous. for example, in china, we know that the children's character, when it approved, is not subject
pooh is nothe subject to censorship. a picture of president xi jinping and the character was run in the guardian newspaper and the guardian newspaper starts off by saying, who is pooh?, theinnie the chinese government, apparently. it shows you how skin deep and degree of they were. and there is retaliation against real people, not characters of disney, that occur. it shows just how extreme. i held hearings in this committee years ago when google, microsoft, cisco and yahoo! were enabling the dictatorship to censor just about everything on the internet, and still do, sadly. let it was google's complicity in that but i and others found appalling.
yesterday, we heard from hong kong democracy activists at a .earing of the china commission they talked about the chilly effect that the new extradition amendments might have, and basically what a lack of press freedom in hong kong is having on journalists, particularly in the area of self-censorship. not only are people in mainland out, mr.d as you point simon coming after turkey, china is second in terms of incarcerated journalist, probably an undercurrent since it is a secret society and we don't know how many are being held fully. so we have a situation where the apple daily, one of the biggest chinese language newspapers has literally shrunk in size because it not only are the children carrying certain articles -- not fromare they chilled carrying certain articles, but the government tells businesses not to put their
advertisements in that newspaper. they grew after them including economically. in turkey, the president is also against journalists. joel simon will talk about the fact that they are the single largest dealer of journalists in -- singlebest jailer largest jailer of journalists in the world. it is an outrage and hopefully on. week to that later again, thank you for your testimonies in advance and for bearing witness to a very ugly this censorship, the incarceration, and intimidation of those men and women who are journalists who try to bring truth to life. i yield back -- who try to bring truth to light. back.d >> i will now introduce the panel and before i do, i went to say that i believe you all have written testimony. we would ask that you summarize your testimony. i will hold everyone to the five-minute rule.
there will be an opportunity to speak again. we will have another round, but i want to go through with everybody sticking to five minutes, and i will apply that to witnesses as well as myself and my colleagues. our first witness, joel simon, has been executive director of the committee to protect journalists since 2006. that he has led the organization, creating a new north american program focused on press freedom in the united states and helping to develop an emergency with on team focused -- emergency response team focused on journalists in crisis around the world. 's freedom house charity senior director of research and analysis. house'soducing freedom flexion from such an analysis report including freedom in the world, freedom in the net, and the latest project, freedom in
the media. she has 20 years experience and research in democracy, human rights and good governance. cengizdhatice is the fiance of jamal khashoggi. since his disappearance and death in october last year, she has been a voice for the call for justice for jamal khashoggi. we thank you for your willingness to share your story. go chair of harjo --gulchehra hoja is a broadcaster with the uighur service. she was a tv personality and journalist in china's uighur region. uighurer hearing rfa's
service broadcast, she decided to leave china and lead the effort to provide the week people with trustworthy, uncensored journalism. for your participation today, and he may begin, mr. feynman. simon: thank you, chair bass and ranking member, and the members of the committee. as executive director for an organization that advocates globally for press freedom and as a former reporter in mexico and central america where i saw firsthand the violence encountered by local journalists who cover human rights, i commend you for holding this hearing. press freedom is among the most fundamental of human rights. it is essential to democracy, accountability and local security. the u.s. please a vital role in ensuring that this right is protected. governments around the world seek to censor human rights
coverage by criminalizing journalism. this is how myanmar retaliated against orders reporters -- reuters reporters who were jailed for over 500 days after reporting on a massacre of rohingya muslim minority in the country. their pardon, the welcome, does not undo the terrible justice committed against them -- terrible injustice committed against them. required at least 250 journalists behind bars. of these, 151 had reported on human rights issues. 70% of all these cases, the journalist were jailed on antistate charges including acquisitions of terrorism. china all hadand high numbers of journalists imprisoned for reporting on human rights. i want to make a point about
china, that half of all journalists jailed in china according to the cpj data were uighur journalists. what is also alarming is that the number held around the world on false news charges, 28 globally, compared to nine in 2016. it is disconcerting to see the governments, most recently russia and singapore, justify repression by claiming they are cracking down on fake news. denouncing critical journalists as fake news can also spur online attacks and inflame public opinion, making it easier for repressive government to justify legal action. one of them is facing a slew of legal cases over that publications investigation into abuses by the government of rodrigo duterte. the ultimate form of censorship is, of course, murder.
of the 54 journalists killed for their work in 2018, 13 reported on human rights, and eight of them were targeted for murder. since 1992, cpj has documented at least 1340 journalists killed in retaliation for their work, at least 285 of those covered human rights. this brutal method of silencing critics was seen last year with the murder of washington post columnist jamal khashoggi. he was killed by saudi officials dispatched from riyadh for that purpose. i commend the committee for making his case a focus of today's hearing, and i also urge that you consider the role played by technology. and digital rights group reported that pegasus, and advanced several weapons sold by nsoisraeli spyware company group likely allowed the saudi government to listen to calls
between jamal khashoggi and a saudi dissident. his killing was an abominable crime that has thus far gone unpunished. cpj has found that in nine out of 10 cases of murder journalists the killers are never brought to justice. this impunity sends an empowering message to those seeking to use violence to censor journalists. the u.s. record on press freedom is not perfect but has long been a leader in ensuring robust protections both at home and abroad. unfortunately, the current administration has not been a forceful advocate for press freedom. contrary, president donald trump has sought to legitimize the work of news organizations, has failed to criticize repressive regimes and has praised leaders who crush dissent. to counter this, congress must step up itsorganizations, has fo criticize repressive efforts. we applaud fast action and call on congress to ensure the state applies pressure on
foreign governments to raise imprisoned journalists, ensuring justice and reforming of laws and practices that infringe on press freedoms it is vital that congress speaks out when these rights are violated finally, as the author of a book on hostage policy, i have a special interest in the fate of american journalist taken hostage overseas congress should insist that the emily: and do all it can to ensure the safe recovery -- that the administration and do all it can to ensure the safe recovery of a journalist 2012.ed in syria in congress should insist that the two men detained in syria who are suspected of murdering foley aret james full brought to justice to stand trial in a u.s. civilian courts. thank you so much, and i welcome your questions. chairman bass: miss
pucci. ms. repucci: it is an honor to testify before you today. i ask that my full statement be submitted to the record. the fundamental right to seek and disseminate information through an independent press is under threat. according to freedom house's freedom in the world data, freedom of the press has been deteriorating in the world in the past decade, and let global decline of democracy at health which freedom house has been tracking for the past 13 years. my points will be a liberated it or forthcoming report, freedom in the media, which will be released the first week of june. edia in the world list free societies have faced challenges. countries are designated as not free in the media world are also
most likely to face decline in their press freedom corps. their methods are what we've seen for years, struck on the media shutdowns, arrests, and violence. it is striking that these governments continue to feel threatened despite already having near control of the political system and flow of information. among the 209 countries and territories recover, we have identified the uses of violence against media professionals in a most half of them over the past five years. second, in some of the most influential democracies, large segments of the population are no longer receiving independent news and information. the decline of rest freedom and democracy has risen in tandem with right-wing populism which is undermined press freedom particularly in hungary, serbia, and india. it is apparent that a free press can never be taken for granted
even when democratic rule has been in place for decades. . third, as democracies retreat from holding press freedom to a gold standard, china is filling the gap with a new authoritarian information model. chinese authorities influence news media content through three strategies. first, the communist party narratives are embedded in foreign media by proxies and analyte figures, including diplomats and foreign media owners. second, its agents and proxies work to suppress critical coverage of china abroad through co-opting russia and media owners and advertisers. and finally, through forms such as start times and the wechat platform, the chinese government has new co-opting media owners and avenues. chinese officials attempt to undermine the watchdog role made by independent media in democratic settings.
the erosion of press freedom is both a symptom of and contributor to the breakdown of other democratic institutions and principles. while the threats to global media freedom are real and concerning come up there in fact on the state of democracy is what makes them truly dangerous. without a free and independent media sector, citizens cannot make informed decisions about how they are ruled, and abusive power cannot be exposed and corrected. nothe united states imposes consequences for instructions on media, free press could be in danger of virtual extinction. with this in mind, we make the following recommendations -- please ensure that actions by u.s. officials don't excuse or inspire violations of press freedom. take strong and immediate action against any violations of media freedom globally through press statements, phone calls, meetings, letters, and targeted sanctions on perpetrators. stand up publicly for the values of a free press, and support
civic education that will generation.next and sure u.s. policy and assistance prioritizes support for democratic principles, including media freedom. it is fundamental to national security. prosperity. support social media as an alternative outlet for free expression in repressive environments, and pass legislation aimed at enhancing of the gray available information about chinese media influence activities. while press freedom is under threat, it can rebound from lengthy stints of repression when given the opportunity. the basic desire for democratic liberties, including access to honest in fact-based journalism can never be extinguished and it is never too late to renew the demand that these rights be granted in full. thank you, and i look forward to your questions. ms.irman bass: miss
cengiz. >> i will be interpreting for her. she was wondering if she is limited to five minutes? what,an bass: you know let me go to miss hoja and come back. translator: ok. hoja: thank you for having me at this hearing. am not going to read my full statement today but i will provide a short summary. i am really proud to be here to represent radio free asia, which was created to provide local news to the people living in close countries. their access to reliable journalism is restricted and censored. for millions of listeners in asia.
it almost and serves as a lifeline to the truth. as a broadcaster with our service, the only independent service outside ofves asghur china, exposing the truth can come at severe cost not just for me and my colleagues, but especially for other families in our sources are not spirit. because of our work is rfanalist, china views as a hostile foreign news network. this perhaps has never been told that now. of has been at the forefront accounting and unimaginable humanitarian crisis in china in uighur region.
the chinese authorities have detained as many as one million ghurs, putting them in prison. an intimidating the remaining population. developments,se my colleagues and i and our service have worked tirelessly to report on events as they occur in our former homeland. this includes breaking the news of mass detention of uighurs at china, ineginning of concentration camps in the spring of 2017. first in interviewing the camp security guards and officials, who described the harsh treatment and conditions, rfa first uncovered the andtruction of facilities
first reported on the overflow of kindergartens and orphanages of uighur children whose parents were detained. thea attempted to suppress stories from the very beginning. we cannot ever visit our homeland again. china would never allow us to get journalism visas. to reachwe are forced our sources using other means, including phone calls, but even that is becoming very difficult, because authorities monitor a.i. technology and voice recognition software to cut us off from the region touchy sources. china faces outside threats to their families and
lebron still in their country. this makes it harder to get the and to confirm developments. chinese authorities have even resorted to threatening my colleagues and me at radio free asia, even though we are based in the united states, and most of us are u.s. citizens. they do this by targeting our china-based relatives. i am among six journalists at service whose family members have been disappeared because of our work. the sad thing is we cannot be -- of our families' well-being or their fate. attempts at contacting them carry serious risks. i know in my colleagues know that our work is important -- i know, and my colleagues know,
that our work is important. after reporting on the human rights crisis in no homeland, journalists in western media have investigated and confirmed many details that were first reported by rfa. knowing that many of our peers turn to the rfa as a trusted source is encouraging. but the cruel irony does not escape my colleagues and me. though we have journalistic understanding about so many events happening in the uighur region, we are often the last to know if our mothers, our fathers, our brothers, our sisters, and our children in prison or not. are in punishment. if they are in need of health or medical care, or if they are still alive.
that is the fear we live every day, every hour. fear, butis a greater if we stop doing our duty as silent,sts, if we are the world will simply forget. chairman bass: thank you. thank you very much. ms. cengiz. cengiz: i want to thank you, first of all. it is very hard for me to make this speech here. cengiz: >> [speaking in foreign language]
after we got married, what travel plans we would make to be here, to witness a very important tragedy, it is a trauma for ago, about me. ms. cengiz: [speaking in turkish] l told me thatma washington was a beautiful 80 and that we would have a beautiful life. he would tell me about u.s. politics, things i did not know. he wanted to push me to be interested in the united states before i arrived. ms. cengiz: [speaking in turkish]
translator: he told me there were large gardens, easy and's, shopping opportunities, he told me there i would not be board and that would be very happy in the united states -- that i would not be bored, that i would be happy in the united states. ms. cengiz: [speaking in turkish] translator: when he came to turkey for us to get married, we quickly got busy planning our marriage. we were buying furniture. women, iow, sometimes
october 2. i still cannot make sense of it. i still cannot understand. i cannot understand that the world still has not done anything about this. ms. cengiz: [speaking in turkish] translator: i had time to walk the streets of washington before i got here, and if someone had told me seven months ago that i aluld come here without jama but to ask for justice for him, i would not have believed it. ms. cengiz: [speaking in turkish]
translator: but now i find myself in front of people that i had been on tv. this is amazing. i'm asking for justice and i cannot find words to express my feelings about this. ms. cengiz: [speaking in turkish] translator: there is much i want to say, but i would like to focus on the things that are important. ms. cengiz: [speaking in turkish]
in the early days, president trump said this would be solved. later we sawhs nothing was done and that is why i am here today. ms. cengiz: [speaking in urkish] ms. cengiz: [speaking in turkish] i just want to say that what is most important here is that within the official mission of the embassy on october 2 it that wasust jamal those killed, it was also the values
translator: and finally come for the values oftes, freedomof thought and of rights, i think it is what the constitution has come but it has the opportunity to show that it has the chance to show freedm of that those who are responsible for this act. there is a test for the united u.s. has test that the to pass, and that is why i'm here today. one last thing. ms. cengiz: [speaking in turkish]
chairman bass: thank you. go ahead. translator: i hope congress can initiate an international investigation, lead an international investigation into this act, and i think international interests should not supersede values. that allies can also mean the people responsible for this murder can be brought to justice. i believe president trump can initiate this as well. chairman bass: thank you very
much. i want to thank the witnesses. i appreciate you sticking to the time limit. rest assured, you will have additional opportunity to speak. i will defer my questions until the end so i can give my colleagues an opportunity to ask their questions. we will stick to the five-minute best the and five-minute rule. let me go to ranking member mr. smith. rep. smith: thank you very much, madam chair. you,hatice, you,hatice, that wy powerful. your written testimony really is a love letter to your fiance, and i thank you for making the a part of the record as well. i know there is a great deal of concern that nothing has been done in terms of prosecution. we know that prince mohammad bin 2018, in november of
there was a washington post article that made it very clear that the c.i.a. had confidence that he was at the core at this terrible murder. my hope is that there would be minimally, sanctions meted out against those who are part of this. we have very significant sanctions under the magnitsky act, the inability to do any business here in the united pursuant to the causes of that law, as well as a visa. in terms of prosecutions, obviously, it would be much harder for the united states to initiate a prosecution when somebody is overseas, but there is a concern that there will never be a prosecution. i think we need to do what we can do right now. the information is very clear.
mr. simon points out that there needs to be something that is not secret, something that can be disseminated widely from our intelligence services that would lay out the case to the greenest extent possible. the washington post article is based on leaks, or someone probably talking without attribution, but high confidence is high confidence and we need to pursue this more aggressively. i thank you again for being here, for bringing this to light so eloquently. and i do want to thank you for that. hoja, thank you for speaking up on behalf of all journalists in china. said, soas mr. simon many are muslim uighurs that have been incarcerated, but i am of the belief that there are many more who are otherwise
harassed, that we simply don't know about. like i said before, the chilling effect it has on unfettered reporting is abominable. there is just no way that anything happening inside of china that is being reported on, and that includes the internet. so i thank you for that. for being here. for raising the issue. again, i would point out that in the reporters without borders data, if you look at the countries are talking about. there are 176 out of 180, three separate congresses, i have had the human rights act passed this house with heavy emphasis on press censorship and what they are doing to bloggers, only to die in the senate. john had hopes on it in the senate -- holds on it in the senate. we will try to pass it again. senator lockley has joined me in
the effort to pass it. mr. simon, i did not see it in your testimony, but i am sure you are concerned about it. since 2011, more than 2000 journalists and bloggers have been detained, and there is no is new cyber security locked in vietnam were google and facebook are blocking posts by vietnamese in the united states. uighurs andth the with many dictatorial countries, they are able to block that kind --a firewall. i would like you to speak to that, if you could. we also know that there is a blogger who works for radio free asia who was abducted from thailand and is seeking asylum. again, if you can speak to that, would appreciate it. there is not much time, but perhaps you can on.
chairman bass: and you respond to that, and then we will come back to mr. smith in a bit. simon: first of all, i want ,o agree with congressman smith we really don't know how many journalists are imprisoned in china, and how many uighur journalists are in prison. we try to come up with an accurate number, but we acknowledge that it is becoming more and more difficult to do routine reporting in china and it is a most impossible, as we have heard from ms. hoja to report in the xinjiang region. international journalists as well are followed and harassed, as we try to follow one of the greatest human rights situations confronting the world right now. i also think you raised some
important information. you give the example of vietnam, but we really need to think about the internet as a shared global system that is under threat. it is under threat by autocratic countries that are putting pressure on u.s. social media companies. it is under threat from a new framework through which we look at social media companies and the role that they play in this global information system. vietnam, as you mentioned, is a country of grave concern. you mentioned the rfa correspondent who was, as best as we can determine, kidnapped from thailand, take into vietnam, where he remains in prison. this is indicative of the broader repressive environment the journalists in that country confront. chairman bass: thank you very much. we are joined by the chair of the foreign affairs committee,
who would like to make a statement. >> thank you, chairwoman b ass. i appreciate your indulgence. i have a short statement to make. i am glad the subcommittee is holding such an important hearing. members ofesses and the public in the press, thank you for future today. i will debrief and start with two short words, and that is fake news. we have all heard it. how does it make you feel? how are your lives and your safety affected when the president calls what you do phony and thinks members of the members ofd paints the press as a menace? as chairman of the committee, i feel strongly that politics should stop at the water's edge. we run this committee in a
bipartisan and collegial manner that i can't sit here and discuss the dangers faced by journalists without mentioning what a love you have to put up with. the united states often set the tone for the rest of the world president, when the calls the press phony and tries to turn people against them, it is not helpful at all. it erodes moral leadership on this critical issue, attacking a founding principle of our great nation. we need to do better for ourselves and for the community.al and america's role in the world cannot just be about advancing our strategic and material interests, it is essential that our values lie at the core of our foreign policy, and in overseas. we do democracy, human rights, the rule of law are things that make government more transparent and responsive, that makes societies more inclusive and prosperous, and make stronger friends and
partners for our own country. there is nothing that shines a light on corruption and impunity press.e free . . there is nothing that reveals the fact of oppressed and marginalized populations better than a free press. a free press has on its side the greatest will to drive progress and change to help address those values, and if that -- and that tool is the truth. that is what does and be such a dangerous work. when journalists. seek to tell the truth, they become the target of those who reject these rallies, that is true of mr. khashoggi. in many places around the world, journalists are harassed, detained, jailed and killed. those of you here today know this all too well. thank you for our witnesses for the memory you demonstrate everyday and by coming to testify here today. i want to convey my deepest iz.pathies to you, miss ceng thank you for your strength in
coming to speak to us today. your story must be heard, and we will help you in making sure that it is heard. there needs to be accountability for your fiance, jamal khashoggi championship murder hislop/jamal khashoggi's murder. his loved ones deserve justice and we ought to push for that justice. frankly, am worried and i wish the people responsible had learned more from the international outcry over his murder, but instead, it doesn't seem that people have learned anything. journalists and bloggers remain pushing in prison. in march, pbs reported that saudi dissidents in the united states are at risk. . just last week, we learned in a region security services have intacted if at all asylee norway about a threat against him from saudi arabia. we are seeing efforts to restrict if we raise all of the globe.
it is happening in the philippines, in venezuela, in hungary. president trump recently met with the hungary and president, orban, who is a very serious abuser of press freedoms. it means congress is not finished. the longer we go without seeing real accountability and change, the tougher the path forward will be. let me make it clear here now, we will not rest until there is true accountability. congress is not done on this issue, and we will continue to fight to protect the free press. thank you for being here today. i thank chairwoman brass and the other members of the committee for their indulgence, and i yelled back. >> thank you. having thisr hearing, and it is certainly important, because once again, it reminds us that somebody of the freedoms we enjoy here in the united wish protected by our first amendment in the
constitution, not enjoyed wrestling. i grew up, not that i am old, but i grew up with a black tv.white my grandchildren, and the oldest will graduate from high school next year, they have never known a time there wasn't an internet and cell phones. their assumption, until they learn, is that the whole world is that way, and it is not. my question for mr. simon and repucci has to do with china. it is very aggressively pushing is 5g network, yielding broadband and developing countries. knowing how repressive the communist chinese are in your own country, doesn't that send a justing effect to not journalists, but everybody that likes the free flow of information when they are building broadband in these
-- if you control the information, you control the country -- so my question is, doesn't that bother you, and what can the united states and its allies due to confront the threat? ms. repucci: thank you for the question, it is very important. as you know, the belt and road , it is ae is reaching trillion dollar project around the world, and china is using that to build infrastructure that can then be manipulated for surveillance of domestically and by china itself. concern.initely a big china is also bringing foreign government representatives to china to train them in information technology.
while we don't know exactly what happens at these trainings, the case of vietnam is a good example. very soon after, vietnamese government representatives o were in china for the training, they returned to vietnam and past a security law that was eerily similar to the cyber security law in china. it does appear that china is itsematically spreading version of digital authoritarianism to other countries for infrastructure and through person-to-person contacts. certainly, the united states needs to take action on this, on maximizing transparency as much as possible. information on what china is doing, getting people aware of what we know about the impacts of these infrastructure projects and these technology projects.
important to it is speak out and to support the countries that are the targets of this. in many ways, these countries are facing a choice between a moving more towards china's model. they need to know that if they want to move towards democracy, they have supporters in the united states who will back them up and will continue to provide them -- that they can follow. mr. simon: i will add very briefly by talking about the impact that this smothering surveillance has on the ability of journalists in china to do their job. i mentioned the challenges they face in reporting in xinjiang, but this surveillance state is being created throughout china,
and the technologies being developed and exported. model ine are seeing a which technology is used to create a massive system of surveillance but undermines and threatens the most fundamental human communication, and obviously, we'll have a devastating effect on the ability of journalists to conduct the kind of essential reporting they need to do it order to inform people and inform the public. >> thank you. >> thank you. i now yield time to myself. cengiz, i hope what you hear today does not sound like empty words. i feel like so many people have let you down and let jama
down. i hope you know what we say is spoken from a place deep within we care deeply. your fiance dedicated himself to the fundamental tenets of a free press, the notion that the pursuit of truth is an obligation owed to the public, and i feel as though we have let and inn, let jamal down so doing, have let down people all over the world who seek to be free. i want to express what i believe our country has struggled to unequivocally express. my sincere sympathy for your loss and my abiding commitment of thek the truth circumstances surrounding his death so others will not suffer a similar fate. my mother was a journalist, although she was never put in harms way, as jim all was -- was, and iamal
committed in her honor and his honor, to shed light on this. it is important to discover the truth. it is our job to protect democracy here and promote it abroad. informed public and accountable government are only possible with a free press and for that reason, i have introduced here a free press resolution, house resolution 325, which currently hold thisponsors, to administration and all future administrations to live up to the principles set by our , who recognized that freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty. when we do not protect our brave journalists, such as mr. khashoggi, we move closer to tyranny. you.ld like to also thank
i recently was visited in my therict by a family, and family members, multiple family members including her father and mother, are currently being held in -- i guess they are called reeducation camps, what i think of as detention camps. she and her brothers have not heard anything from her mother more than 90 days, and she showed me pictures of at their most healthy, enjoying their grandchildren, and then she showed me the less known photograph of her mother, ill, so iry sick and commend you for the work you are doing and the sacrifices you are risks you are taking both for you and for your family. i just want to ask you this --
how -- do you believe that the reachesthat you produce chinese listeners at all, and do they experience risk just by virtue of listening or reading the material you produce? >> of course. the source and the listeners' safety is the most important. we extremely worry about because loan our families the picture, their id, but we do not listeners' information, even after listening to us, what but weening is unknown, have published several cases. they are charged with seven to 10 years even before they find
out they have been listening rfa code to evensevere download western media or you listen or even the pictures can up in a concentration camp right now, so we have several cases that have been published, but we believe the information itself, even though chinese government using very harsh technology to black out, but still, people are using some kind of technology to listen to people, as some travelers, to give them some information. we will bring the information we provide and they bring the information to them. that is why we constantly even
today take very valuable information from the region. that is why we continue. >> well, i'm glad that you do and i'm glad there is still the will of people to know the truth given in the face of great adversity. with that, i yield to mr. phillips. madam chair, and thanks to each of you. the importance of the work you do, the courage with which you do it is admirable, integral, and should be celebrated by this entire world. i'm grateful to you all. your testimony has moved me, and may your beloved jamal's memory and may onelessing of those blessings be action on is part of this body, which to ensure tragedies like that never happen again. as i was preparing for this hearing, i was reminded of the words of our third president,
thomas jefferson, who remarked that he would prefer to have a free press without government than a government without free press. 230-some years later. i will add to that if journalists are at risk, then democracy itself is in peril, and i believe this very hearing may be one of the most important ones that we have all year long. my question to each of you is a very simple one, and that is -- what action would you like to see this congress take to take steps to protect journalists all around the world to ensure that democracy can not just survive but thrive? mr. simon: let me mention one thing that is general and something else that is very specific. generally, i think the congress needs to ensure that the state department and the executive
branch perform its essential role of upholding press freedom, ensuring that journalists who are unjustly imprisoned around the world, governments that in that behavior face maximum pressure. governments that failed to investigate the murder of journalists face pressure, governments that impose censorship that restrict the work of the media face pressure. that's absolutely vital. thatso need to recognize authoritarian governments, authoritarian leaders around the world will use whatever pretext is provided to them to justify their repressive actions. they are repressive because they -- eve that by
to justify their action. that's deeply troubling and i think it is important that this body speak out about that. mention, want to because we heard from ms. cengiz who spoke about her fiance in a very personal way, i want to means for what this the cause of press freedom. the way in which he was murdered, the brutality of the crime, the fact that it was exercised extraterritorial he, the fact that it was planned and coordinated by a government, the fact that it was functionally a fact thatrture, the the people who are alleged to have carried out this crime have not been held accountable, and the fact that the u.s. government has been unable or
unwilling to apply pressure to ensure justice sends a terrible message to tyrants and dictators of press freedom all around the world, that they can engage in this behavior, that they can murder journalists, that they can censor the media, and that they will not face consequences. that is a terrible message, a demoralizing message, a message which i believe cannot be allowed to stand. thank you. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you. i'll will just reiterate how important it is that the united states stand up for the values of free press here at home and that those values serve as a world.round the we have a disproportionate influence in the world. people continue to look to us
despite our fault and mistakes, and we need to uphold that model here. that might be aimed at a domestic audience has international reverberations. the rhetoric of fake news we've seen since president trump first raised the term in 2016, we've seen more than 20 countries thatr past proposed laws are on the surface fighting misinformation but are actually using that as an excuse to crack down on critical voices at home. it is incredibly important that we uphold our own values here and speak out when those values are violated in other countries. >> thank you. i'm out of time.
>> picture of the threats faced by journalists worldwide. about governments that threaten journalists as military dictators in places like egypt, turkey, saudi arabia, or honduras, that's kind of expected, but i worry a lot about what is happening here and he kind of message our president is sending when he calls the orss the enemy of the people calls any story that paint his that -- any story that paints him in a bad light as fake news, what message that has. i say we don't have to look too far from our own country. tohave seen bonds being sent
reporters in cnn in october, , murder at the offices of the capital gazette, that members of the house of representatives assaulted doing . campaign talking back to the question of threats against journalists sisidwide, when president of egypt was here, i mentioned that havernalists been arrested in egypt this year charged with fake news, i would guess president trump did not bring that up. some see thehat
president's treatment as a green light in other countries? we have also heard reports of the united states government committing surveillance against and other human rights workers at the southern border. i signed a letter that was on this by my colleague problem, but i wanted to ask you how this hurts u.s. credibility and not onlydom, tweets by president trump -- ing
>> and at a domestic audience empowers autocratic leaders and undermines the u.s., so it is of deep concern. obviously not a press freedom .ssue, per se there is a risk, as you indicated, that some people may take this language literally and there is evidence that people have done that, and that is, as you indicate, alarming as well. i think you have identified one very critical press freedom issue, and that is the way in who areurnalists crossing the border into the united states have been subjected to searchers that we andeve are overly broad
restrictive of their ability to carry out their work. securing data is critical to their work and we have raised concerns with dhs on that issue and we have not gotten satisfactory response in our view. a secondnt to note concern that is a broader legal concern, and that is about the ofressive prosecution journalist sources. this was a trend which actually began in the obama administration, which prosecuted eight journalist sources under the espionage act, which is overly broad, in our view, instrument for this purpose and has a chilling effect in the media, but we've seen a number of cases in the trump administration, so this is a long-term trend. it is a legal threat to press freedom and concerns us greatly. >> thank you. , wanted to say to ms. cengiz
thank you so much for the courage you are showing. there is not really anything any of us can say to ease the pain that you must have endured the last seven months. i had the privilege of attending nhr -- attending an iftar with jamal last year, and as you are speaking about the loving relationship you shared, i a famousd, he took picture of keith ellison and i, , "you need to run or congress." i said i could not because the only seat i could run for is occupied by keith ellison, and we laughed about that, and i did not really know that i would -- that that would be the last time that i would see him, but he was
always courageous in the work that he did and you are showing courage, and i hope that we can follow that in being courageous and making sure that justice is being served in his death. >> thank you for sharing that, representative omar. >> thank you, madam chair. i also want to say thank you so much to you all for coming and sharing your lives and stories with us so we can hopefully be helpful and do something about it. i'm deeply grateful for your story. i also have a story that i would like to share with your record and with the congress as well. in my home state of pennsylvania, we suffered recently a loss as well of a journalist as well. his passion was particular to shot andan, and he was killed by south sudanese government forces. if it's ok, i would like to enter this very recent article about him for the record.
i know that his family is grieving as well and we grieve for him and his family in the same way that we grieved for you. i guess what i would like to ask , as many of my colleagues have asked questions about what we make sure we are helpful as a congress, my first question is to mr. simon, in your estimation, how much of the violence against journalists is government directed or attributed and how much is perpetuated by criminal or terrorist organizations or other nongovernmental organizations to the degree that you have data or information about that? have oratabase that we that would be most relevant would be the number of , and thets killed perpetrators of that violence because, obviously, repressive action, journalists in prison, that is all perpetrated by government. i would like to get back to you
on the specific numbers rather than citing them off the top of my head, but i will say and i can affirm that a threat from nonstate actors is rising and has been for a number of years. these would include criminal organizations like mexican drug other criminal organizations, for example, in , alsol america and brazil radical islamist groups in andes like syria, and iraq, the engagement you have to have in order to defend journalists working in that type of environment is different since advocacy with those groups is generally not going to be effective. >> is that anything you can think of from the united states standpoint, from a congressional standpoint that we can do to sort of tease those things apart and be helpful in the cases where it's not necessarily
directly attributable to a state ? mr. simon: one thing i talk about in my remarks is hostage policy. have andactors continue to take journalist hostage, and i think we need a more flexible and dynamic approach to that issue as government. i think we have a rigid framework in which we operate and that does not always lead to the best outcomes, and i think that the u.s. government can and initiatives to ensure that journalists have access to safety information, they need to do their job safely in those kinds of environments, and that is absolutely an action that the u.s. government can take. >> thank you. with my last little bit of question, i will love to hear about what steps we can take specific to female, women thenalists, and
particularly different issues that face them, if any of you guys can give us advice. >> i'm sorry, i was actually looking at a note with data that my colleague passed to me. 213 crimes attributed to government, 139 to criminal groups, 253 to military arecials, which functionally government and 453 to political groups, so that is a pretty good breakdown of the data. >> thank you. with the last few seconds of my time, i also have a story from a member of my community, coastal and something you. former resident, now is an american citizen, he has been recently engaged, and his
version of fighting back against non-democracy in his former nation and was recently imprisoned as well as journalists in his community have been imprisoned and this is his testimony and he came to visit me, so this is for the record as well. thank you for the work you are doing. it could not be more important. it's one of the reasons iran for congress. turns out the truth matters, so thank you. >> thank you. a couple of quick questions. know that you have several members of your family -- what it says here is at least 10 of least twowo -- at dozen that are missing. i was wondering do you have any information about them, what is being done? about ane heard instance that has happened, but we have not been able to verify, because wey unclear
cannot directly contact with them. from otherr rumors relatives. parentsntact with my after i give testimony last year , they opened up the chinese government, the phone lines. i don't know why, but they did, so i can contact with my other relatives, as my cousins and my brothers, we are not sure about them, are .hey alive or not i would love to ask the u.s. embassy in beijing, ask about
the whereabouts and well-being of me and my colleagues' family members. also -- -- >> gives me, you are asking us if we can ask, is that what you are saying? >> yes. >> and you have the list of names? .> yes, we already gave it >> ok. >> like me and my other five colleagues, about 50-something people in the camp. >> ok, thank you. , i think you referenced this before, but i would like you to restate it. what would you like to see the u.s. government do?
the legal procedures and the legal procedure saudi arabia undertook is not transparent. we still do not know why he was killed. we do not know where his corpse is. congress, if it undertakes an international investigation and puts pressure on saudi arabia to share with the public and the united states, that could be one thing. there should also be sanctions on saudi arabia. all --son jim all -- jim the reason jamal moved to the united states was because there were other people like him in saudi arabia who could not voice their opinions, and he felt responsible for them and said in the united states he could be their voice. maybe we could help free those people and other prisoners. >> thank you very much, madam chair. i think the record should note arabialect that saudi
has been very un-forthcoming when it comes to information, even those who conspired in 9/11, we had a major battle in congress. in hisbipartisan, and only act overturned by veto override, the legislation to try to get to the individuals who were part of 9/11, the security agents so the courts could pursue without the written is ofs that would occur national security so that could go forward and that did pass the house. with schumer joined in republicans. it was a total bipartisan effort. again, the only piece of legislation to the best of my knowledge that barack obama vetoed and had it overridden by the house and senate, underscoring the a credible incredible arrogance
on the part of saudi arabia not to be forthcoming with that information. i find it appalling. i think we all must find it appalling. the "washington , the saudi prince ordered jamal khashoggi's assassination remade part of the be made part of the record, hopefully without objection. without objection. >> i appreciate that. hadakes clear that the cia high confidence, that they indeed went right to the very top. again, we need to be very clear, it oughts why i think to be imposed on the very top including the prince. i had a bill that i tried for years to get past, the ethiopian
human rights act. the bush administration opposed it. the obama administration opposed it. my good friend and colleague went back and forth a few times with donald payne. we were in lockstep trying to get this legislation passed. very serious emphasis on the easyof press freedom in open you as well as individuals who were being incarcerated for their journalistic writing. last congress, i authored a bill that laid out a number of important benchmarks that we hoped the new government would follow. when my good friend and traveled tod i ethiopia to meet with the new veryr of ethiopia, we were encouraged by his release of political prisoners, his sense of press freedom was sacrosanct, but i have to tell you, i said here and had in both parties, democrat and republican white house is tell me that the bill
would do more harm than good, let's not do this, then after we and get age of regime democrat in power and at is about a, everybody is on board, like we always knew there was a problem -- after we get a change of regime and get a democrat and power in addis ababa. that anask again opinion piece in "the washington post" be made part of the record . he does make the point that the criminal investigation had its roots in george bush's administration, but then he says the obama administration's aggressiveness on this front led to a scandal in 2013. the justice department
subpoenaed two months' worth of records, and it talks about a whole lot of other examples, but certainly had a chilling effect on the press during those eight years, and we don't want to have any more of that, frankly. i was part of a group that went to the soviet union under the auspices of commission cooperation. the beginnings of perestroika in russia, soviet union. we had three days of roundtable discussions with existing members of the duma, all of them unelected, facing their first election. it came into a hold a conversation about press freedom, and they asked what do we do when we are attacked by the press, and since i get that a lot, i pointed out that we write op-ed's, contact the journalists involved and try to set the record straight, and we talk to their editors and maybe editorve a letter to the
to try to make a point that they got it wrong, but that is it. ae idea of bringing defamation suit that almost never is successful, but it is one of the prices we pay in a mock lessees, i think, for having a free and unfettered press. they can get it wrong sometimes and grossly wrong. i do wish there was more of an emphasis on responsible journalism by some. i took a class in college and journalism and the first thing i the tenets ofat journalism are accuracy, accuracy, accuracy, and a wish we would get back to that. unfortunately, we have gone back in russia to the battle days of a lack of journalistic freedom. i again want to thank you for pointing that out. madeast administration serious, serious mistakes when it comes to press freedom and we don't want to see that
currented through the one and we certainly do not want jamal khashoggi's case to go the way of those who were complicit in the soviet government with 9/11, which continues to this day to be still not resolved. let me just ask one final question if i could. there are a number of countries , and i wonder if you could speak to some of the countries like eritrea, djibouti, somalia, sudan, all of to speak to what we could be doing. you mentioned, i thought it was a good point in your this is anion, that asylum be available to journalists escaping. my question -- is that happening or not? are they getting it when they try to escape?
second, as the report robust enough in your opinion on focusing on journalism? thank you. press answer to the freedom element in the state department of human rights report under the press freedom act, the state department is required to have robust reporting on press freedom issues, i would say that that is not happening. i would like to see that absolutely, and that is why it is a recommendation. i believe that those reports can seem bureaucratic, but they send an important message about u.s. values, and they are received with a great deal of attention -- whoseuntries that practices are documented. absolutely i would like to see that strengthened. us -- visas, we deal with that in a practical way and i think it is more about the fate
of specific individual journalists who were threatened that the u.s. was perceived as a haven for those persecuted journalists around the world who needed to find refuge. that is no longer the case. it is simply too difficult, even for our organization when we look to evacuate journalists who are facing even the threat of look to othern places because we simply -- >> is that new? >> it was always a challenge, but it has absolutely gotten a lot worse. i think that lives are at stake. you ask the question about africa, and i'm afraid i cannot answer that in 30 seconds, but i will say that africa has in some ways to fight at. there are huge challenges to journalism in africa, but there are some tremendous efforts, as you mentioned, ethiopia as an
example, and i think when people think of africa and press freedom, they think that there journalists imprisoned and high number of journalists killed, but actually africa is a part of the world where, as i said, there were huge challenges, but they are not reflected in that data. if you want to find good news in africa, you can, about rest freedom. >> one last question if i could, madam chair. you made an interesting and very only dot point that not they miss treat journalists, including people like yourself who are not even in country, but they also go after the families, and i wonder if that is a trend we are seeing elsewhere because that is what especially dictatorships do. also say also not spared our our sources. i wonder -- do they track them down, to? they do have surveillance capabilities that are second to none in china. do they track down the people
that are the source or the gist of your articles? >> yes, it's big. we have several cases we can talk more about later, but recently, after the camp started, one of the survivors, even he was in kazakhstan, he tracks down in kazakhstan ,hreatened by chinese officials also threatened by kazakh officials. that's why he leaves the family to turkey. ther he spoke about s to thecing the camp' western media, his father and whole family wound up in the camps. his father passed away in the camp. other sources, we cannot just openly give the information
about them. >> but it is a problem? >> yes, it is. >> you find that, too, as well? the sources become targeted like the journalists themselves? >> absolutely. one of the things i mentioned in my opening remarks is the software developed by the pegasus group that was used to track jamal khashoggi's contact. there is state-level surveillance, but there's also privately available surveillance tools. >> you did say in your testimony that it was likely. how confident are you that it was pegasus? mr. simon: i think there is a high degree of likelihood. that is what our researcher was able to determine, so that is what we believe. >> thank you so very much.
i ask that michael mccaul's statement be made part of the record. >> of course, without objection. let me once again thank you all for being here today. i do want to just make a statement just for the record, in terms of what we are facing here with the current my lifetime isin something that i have never seen, a president who has called journalists and the press the enemy of the people, who has called for the media to be investigated, who has called for reporters and the media to be jailed, who at rallies has intimated, you know, if they were attacked, you know, whatever. we had the act of domestic terrorism, which one of the members referenced, the bombs that were placed, you know, at we're goingwhat through right now in our country
is something that we have to pay very careful attention to. we cannot just ignore it and say this is the antics of this president, because we have to be careful that we do not allow this administration to change social norms in this country where it then becomes acceptable when you have someone who is arranged that walks into a newsroom and actually murders people. you have to be very careful of the environment that you are setting if you are the leader of the country and are spreading vitriol. i know that prior administrations have made mistakes, but again, in my lifetime, we have never seen anything like we are witnessing today. i want to thank the witnesses for coming. i want to thank mr. simon and do repucci for the work you on a daily basis, holding the line and making sure that journalists are protected, and do with for what you
radio free asia. i cannot even imagine what it would you like to have two dozen of my family members missing -- i cannot imagine what it would be like. to ms. cengiz, i appreciate you to speakingself up publicly about what has happened. i think the world was horrified at the open, blatant murder of your fiance and the fact that that has gone unanswered in the world is a source of shame. i appreciate what you said in terms of what you would like to see from our country. you should know, for myself and from the ranking member who has put in more than three decades working on these issues and fighting for human rights, that we will do what we can. there needs to be justice for what was done. thank you very much. with that, the meeting is adjourned.
>> when the house returns, they will debate a bill to an abandoned -- to abandoned -- sex, sexual o orientation. for details, we talked to a capitol hill reporter. is a health care reporter. what would this inequality act do and why is it a top priority? big l4 house democrats -- bill for house democrats. it would protect those identifying as lgbtq.